Dance review: Spring Performance by Ballet West proves initiative, potential

Published: Saturday, June 5 2010 10:47 p.m. MDT

BALLET WEST ACADEMY, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, June 5

The Ballet West Academy finished up its spring performance run with a technically sound rendition of the "Sleeping Beauty Suite" on Friday night.

The young dancers displayed their training throughout the impressive production that included the Fairy variations, the Bluebird Pas de Deux, the White Cat and Puss 'n' Boots, Red Riding Hood and the Garland solos.

The suite wrapped up with the sweeping pas de deux performed by Princess Aurora and her Prince, danced by Kathleen Martin and Ryan Sargent.

Although Sargent's energy waned a bit toward the end of the showcase, kudos to him and the rest of the cast for taking on such a demanding piece. While there may be some rough edges, all the steps were there, and the execution was excellent. All the dancers need is a little maturity, but they are well on their way. In fact, it would be interesting to see these young high-school-age dancers in two years.

"Sleeping Beauty Suite" was the finale of an evening of repertoire that started with the contemporary "Retro Shifts." Choreographed by Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company's Caine Keenan, who is also on the Ballet West Academy faculty, "Retro Shifts" focused on the dancers' knowledge of how their bodies moved.

While some places may have seemed a bit chaotic, the movements were all planned and presented in fluid frames that also highlighted the dancers' discipline.

Friday evening's performance also included another epic work, "Fairy Festival (with a Little Elfin Mischief)," which showcased the academy's younger dancers.

The audience couldn't help but be impressed, and for good reason. These children, ranging from elementary-school age to their teens, took the initiative with the spry and charming choreography by faculty members Jan Clark Fugit, Cati Snarr, Lisa Hoyt and Jason Linsley.

The dancers not only kept the energy high, they also kept the many transitions smooth, fun, intriguing and magical.

The young men were highlighted in the primal "Kashira." This contemporary ballet piece took elements of modern and jazz and threw them in the mix with the percussive score by the Asian percussion group Kodo.

Power, energy, strength and control were fused with the joy of dance as they leaped, contorted, lunged and, in some cases, flew and were flown, across the stage.

Lovers of good, strong, technical dance need not worry about the quality of dance in the future after seeing what schools such as the Ballet West Academy can do.

Academy director Peter Christie needs to be praised for his vision and his dedication.

e-mail: scott@desnews.com

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